How to get a job at Google, Apple, or Microsoft

Stewart Mitchell reveals what you'll need to get a job at one of the tech industry's elite companies, and guides you through the application process

Stewart Mitchell
15 Jan 2010

With the economic hangover starting to wear off, the technology giants are once again recruiting in earnest. Apple, Google and Microsoft all have vacancies on their websites, and now could be the perfect time to land a job at one of computing’s biggest hitters.

But what does it take to beat off hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow applicants and land a job at one of the tech elite? We’ve talked to people inside Microsoft, Apple and Google to discover how to track down the best jobs, and what it takes to get through the arduous selection and interview processes.

We’ll reveal what type of personality the big three are looking for, how to apply, and how to prepare if you make it through to the interview stages. And we do mean stages: candidates can face up to a dozen interviews before they’re given a name badge and a space in the car park. So you have the stamina, a nice clean suit and a brain the size of Birmingham, read on to find out how to join tech’s top table.

Finding a vacancy

The first port of call when casing a job at IT’s heavyweights is their websites. All three list available posts online, with options for submitting CVs and cover letters for specific roles.

Microsoft says it generally advertises only full-time posts on its careers site, “because otherwise we’d be inundated, and there are only so many CVs we can sift through”.

However, specific roles with rare skills occasionally appear with specialist recruitment agencies. Full-time technical jobs are sourced on-site, through a department run by recruitment agency Penna Barkers. Temporary and contract positions are handled by the Brook Street agency, while sales positions are filled through Manpower. In a bid to improve diversity, Microsoft also places roles on special-interest websites, such as women’s job sites and

We want to find the top talent and realise that it isn’t always going to come to us, so we’re active about getting agencies involved and will use headhunters

Google, likewise, prefers to hire through its Google jobs website, but is more likely to post jobs with skills-specific recruitment websites. “We want to find the top talent and realise that it isn’t always going to come to us, so we’re active about getting agencies involved and will use headhunters, especially for more specific roles,” said Alison Parrin, a recruiter at Google UK.

Apple advertises on its Apple jobs website, but uses agencies to identify staff for certain positions – a recent change that’s shaking up the company culture, according to one manager, who spoke with us on the promise of anonymity. “We used to find people through people who we knew,” said our Apple insider. “If we were looking for a systems developer, we’d say: ‘Who do we know in the channel, or at our rivals’, and we found people that fitted well with the culture of the company. We’re growing so fast now that it isn’t always possible, so often we’ll go to agencies with a job spec and let them track them down.”

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